School policies should reflect technology’s potential for teaching and learning, a new report says.

A new report from a number of prominent education groups aims to guide school leaders as they revise their mobile technology and social media policies to better reflect how today’s students want to learn.

The report, “Making Progress: Rethinking State and School District Policies Concerning Mobile Technologies and Social Media,” was produced by the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and the FrameWorks Institute.

It defines social media as “the set of applications for digital devices that enable the creation and exchange of user-generated content.” Mobile technologies are “devices with internet connectivity that can be held easily in one’s hand.”

“Policy makers and educators are struggling to balance the educational opportunities that mobile technologies and social media can provide at school with legitimate concerns around providing a safe environment focused on learning. This document from leading education and state policy nonprofits aims to inform better decision making in state capitals and school boards and among educational leaders,” said CoSN CEO Keith Krueger.

“Mobile technologies and social media, if leveraged appropriately, have the potential to maximize student learning and engagement, and transform the concept of the classroom from four walls to an interactive space where student-centered learning takes place,” said Frameworks Institute President Susan Bales. “While there are a variety of challenges, there are enormous opportunities, and if we – educators, technology leaders, and school decision makers – find ways to harness the power of these tools, the benefits to our young people and our education system are countless. There are also legitimate concerns that must be addressed, but they must be weighed against the potential benefits.”

The report includes the following key observations:

  • The use of mobile internet devices and social media by young people is widely prevalent. The use of student-owned mobile devices for classroom instruction is growing, and more schools are moving from policies that ban their use to integrating them into the classroom.
  • Students and schools experience substantial educational benefits through the use of mobile technologies and social media.
  • There are legitimate concerns about the use of social media that need to be addressed.
  • Current federal, state and local policies and procedures need modification or clarification in order to respond to current realities of expanded social media and mobile devices in schools.
  • Equity is a vital issue to consider when establishing policy around social media and mobile technologies.